Near misses in Cambridgeshire and Essex prompt campaign to promote dog safety near train lines

Network Rail has launched an awareness campaign.

Network Rail has launched an awareness campaign. - Credit: Archant

Network Rail has launched a campaign calling for pet owners to keep their dogs on leads near railway tracks.

Working in partnership with Dogs Trust, the decision comes after 180 near misses and five fatalities were reported since 2010, including one in July 2013 at Ickleton Mill Lane.

Ten other near misses have happened in Essex, five in Cambridgeshire and six in Suffolk in the last five years.

The campaign not only aims to raise awareness for pet safety, but also for owners who often risk their lives to rescue their beloved pooches.

In fact, two thirds (68 per cent) confessed they would try to retrieve their dog even if a train was approaching the crossing, according to a survey conducted by Dogs Trust.

More worryingly, an additional 68 per cent admitted they do not even know where level crossings are when walking their dogs.

Lynn Barber, Dogs Trust Head of Training and Behaviour, said: “Dogs Trust would like to advise all dog owners who walk near railway lines or level crossings to have your dog on a lead and under control at all times.”

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The charity, which has 20 re-homing centres across the country, will begin handing out level crossing safety leaflets for new owners in the hope of preventing more near misses and fatalities.

Ms Barber added: “If your dog likes to chase wildlife, cars or bikes or is very fearful you should try to avoid walks that are near level crossings. Recall is essential near potentially dangerous situations.”

Darren Lincoln, dog owner and Network Rail level crossing manager, said: “I know with my dog how easily he can run off and how difficult it is sometimes to call him back, so I always keep him on a lead when I am somewhere busy like a level crossing or a road.

“It is my job to keep people safe at level crossings, and across the country we see far too many near misses with trains and people walking their dogs. I do not want any of these near misses turning into tragedies and so I urge anyone walking their dog close to a level crossing, to keep them on a lead and keep their pets and themselves safe from harm.”